Knock knock knockity knock. A silhouetted figure knocks on the door of the pool house, and a shot inside shows that the interior is in complete darkness. Considering that this location is usually the setting for more grating morning time banter than the set of The View, we are to regard this as odd. The hand that knocked the cradle pulls the door open, and we discover "Episode III: Return Of The" Seth Cohen, peering into the darkened space and nervously asking, "Ryan?" A mass of unrequited despondency shifts its weight under the covers, and Seth advances into the room, mutters a sympathetic (though oddly Pauly Shore-ian), "Oh, buddy," pulls up the window shades, and gets us comfortable with the idea of him not talking for the very last time in this entire episode. And then, he's off: "Look, I know you're bummed that Lindsay left, but you can't live like this." Seth makes his way to the bed and pulls the covers back in an "I hope he sleeps naked" kind of way, and a highly unamused Ryan "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Wifebeater" Atwood grabs the covers and pulls them back. Undeterred, Seth masters the concept of circular breathing so that he can continue without a pause: "Do you remember when Summer was leaving for Italy with Zach, you refused to let me stay bedridden and depressed?" And honestly, recalling that episode does nothing more than remind of me of the twin plagues of rain and Delaney, and I've already spent the amount of money I'm going to make writing this recap downloading the collected works of Boyz II Men from iTunes, so let's try and look forward from now on instead of back or you're going to owe me a copy of Cooleyhighharmony, show.
Ryan concurs entirely, reminding Seth that when Summer was leaving for Italy with Zach, Ryan gave Seth his space and said "do what you have to do." Which is the kind of shoddy, laissez-faire advice that leads someone to buy back his weird sex boat and put it in the pool only to see it not even turn out to be a significant plot development even after all that trouble. But Seth is forced to submit to this reality, sitting down and telling Ryan that he'll do anything -- anything -- that Ryan asks. Luckily, Ryan has an answer at the ready, and he growls in response, "Fine. You leaving, right now." Hey, Chino! Look at his bad-boy persona start to creep in at the edges, all Eliza Doolittle-like, through his refined personality! Watch as Ryan returns to form and throws the verbal punch that is...extremely politely asking someone if they wouldn't mind leaving him to his thoughts! Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do! But Seth won't stop, and he basically embarks on the verbal equivalent of a kid poking his older brother repeatedly on the shoulder and being all, "Does this hurt? Does this hurt? What about this? Am I bothering you? Do you like games? I like the word 'butter'! Wanna play computer? Why do cows moo? Ants are tiny!" Ryan literally resorts to putting his hands over his ears, and when Seth suggests that they go to the diner for some pancakes (or, as he refers to said breakfast, a "short stack"), Ryan has had enough and finally barks, "Seth, shut UP." Woo! The real Ryan Atwood! Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Except not really, because he immediately adds a conciliatory "please," and then goes on to bare his girly soul and explain the source of this not-really-outburst: "This thing with Lindsay is different...different as in not fixed by pancakes." Seth starts to open his mouth, and Ryan heads him off at the pass: "And don't ask me how I feel about waffles." Note to everyone with word processing capabilities and a key to the writer's room: tough guy + "don't ask me how I feel about waffles" = hilarity. But the music cue tells us that we are take this moment with extreme seriousness, so I'll pull myself together: Ryan apologizes for taking this out on Seth, and Seth frowns, "That's what I'm here for." That's what he's here for? Since when has putting his own personal trauma aside for others been a cornerstone of the Seth Cohen experience? Either way, it's going to be a real challenge for him to get in the front door of that diner with that newly-affixed cross strapped to his back. Ryan's sad: "I've had a lot of people in my life who have just left. I thought those days were gone, but I guess they aren't." Ryan lies back down. Seth looks chastened. Seth agrees to leave, and Ryan waits until he's gone before leaping out of bed, grabbing a old duffel bag filled with pain, and throwing some clothes on top of it. You know where he's going? The mall.